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Wednesday, 21 January 2009

What exactly is a Digital Agency?

These days everywhere you look you see a digital agency, and to be honest with you, they really piss me off!
The reason I say this, is mainly because when looking for jobs it's becoming more common to see ads that call for 'digital experience'. And suddenly, a whole new breed of creatives have emerged as a result of this demand.

I also want to say that I understand why digital media has become so popular, clients get very low prices for massive audiences (in comparison to TV/Press or outdoor even), which is fair enough. But this does not justify the need for media specific agencies. We don't have them for any other media (not in this scale anyway)!

As for the 'digital creatives', what kind of experience do they actually have? I doubt it very much that they are especially knowledgeable about the technologies behind their ads, clearly they have programmers/designers/developers producing their concepts. Most creatives know very little about Filming, Photography or Printing techniques, yet this does not stop them conceptualizing amazing ideas. Of course it's always great to stay in the loop with new production techniques as it may help you understand what's possible or even push your ideas in a new direction, but as a creative you don't need to understand them.

Finally, I just want to say that I hope creatives take a bigger interest in the way our industry is evolving, we're the ones who shape it's future! Advertising is more than pretty pictures and clever lines.


]-[appy Thought said...

Hi. I'm a digital creative and I find what you're written here puzzling. Firstly you seem to have a go at our kind, then close with a rallying cry of taking interest in the evolution of the industry. Yes advertising is more than pretty pictures and clever lines; we can offer experiences, motivations, sales and anything else we like, but a lot of this can be facilitated through digital, which many people would consider the evolution of marketing as we know it. I agree that we don't -need- separate agencies for this kind of thing, but some people saw digital as an opportunity while others didn't, so we have a divide. You see bigger agencies taking on digital accounts with teams now, but because digital is a constantly evolving beast its useful to have a dedicated team focusing only on it, or at least that other teams should know a bit about digital media, seeing as I have the good grace to know what a 92 sheet poster or AdShel is. There's more history than deliberate intention to this media split and it is slowly coming together, but the taint of digital will always be there now, which is why people need experience in it.

I can't speak for every digital creative, but for me it's very important to have as much knowledge about technology, innovation, new media and anything else to keep the execution of work as well as the ideas/concepts fresh. If you don't know things exist then how can you create work for it? Because digital is interactive rather than broadcast, having experience is very important, otherwise it can be hard to progress work further. Internet viewers get bored quickly, so constant research and tinkering with existing technology is key to getting cut-through in whatever we do. It's not like TV which people just sit down to watch and will take in any old shit in their sedentary mode. They are active and interested and get angry over repetition. This is a good reason to have dedicated digital creatives: often we have to run very fast just to stand still. If you just dip in and out you can find your work looking dated very quickly.

Obviously you need a great concept/idea too, but that goes without saying. We are capable of doing both. And on the whole we're cheaper than a big TV shoot out in the Bahamas. No wonder we're attractive to clients!

Sorry we piss you off, I take it your not looking for a job in digital then?

K said...

Hi mate,

from your reply, I can clearly see that you agree with most of the issues I already raised. That;
1. There is no need for separate agencies
2. It is beneficial to keep up with technological advancements (whether it's new filming/animation techniques, special effects, new media or 'programming' related)
3. Digital is clearly attractive to clients because of the cost issue and the fact that you can reach such huge audiences.

But you were obviously very insulted by what I wrote, and must have not read everything, since you pretty much repeated everything I said in a very disgruntled way.

It's also equally obvious that you disagree with my main issue, which is that if you are a good creative you can conceptualize brilliant ideas for whatever media. Your justification for disagreeing with me seems to be "Because digital is interactive rather than broadcast, having experience is very important". And I fail to see the logic in this, in my opinion all advertising is interactive. The response that's created from viewing an ad, be it emotional or a physical action, is interaction. And if you're referring to 'design interaction', that's available in both TV, outdoor and press these days.

You also seem to think that 'digital creatives' have to work harder in order to create work that is original, which I believe to absurd as it is clearly easier to be innovative in such a dynamic media, especially if the innovation lies in the technology rather than the idea.

Finally, my intention was not to disrespect creatives that work in digital agencies, unlike yourself I don't see you as a different 'kind' ("Firstly you seem to have a go at our kind..."). That was my point. last thing, I believe IHAI, is forwarding the issue that I raised to Philippe Meunier, co-founder of Sid Lee, which apparently started as a digital agency. So it should be interesting to hear his view on the matter too.


]-[appy Thought said...

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on our definition of interactive. But that's cool, we work in a subjective business! And I wasn't disgruntled, I was just adding to the dabate; moreover I was just unsure why digital agencies "piss you off", because if you wernt trying to disrespect digital creatives that could have been seen as having a go!. I can only speak from my experience that not all creatives can work through all media, and it can
take a trained ATL team a long time to make
good digital work. We've had a few ATL teams
at our place that have moved back to ATL after
a bit because they found of like trying to write ads in a foreign language! But that's just my
take on it, I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule. And I don't think you understood what I meant about working harder, good digital ads aren't made by innovations in tech, it's still all about the idea.

Chat soon dude.

sure there are exceptions to the rule.

K said...

Hi again mate,

I'm glad you decided to add to the debate. After all, that is the purpose of blogging, to share opinions and receive feedback.

However, I still believe that having media specific agencies is wrong, and that's the aspect that 'pisses me off'.

I hope you decide to share your thoughts again in the future.


Anonymous said...

Go on Koush!

Anonymous said...

Koush that was 'koushty' come back!